Local journalists add important perspective to 'Elgin: A Women's City Without Many Pictures' exhibit

The exhibit "Elgin: A Women's City Without Many Pictures" opens March 3 at Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin.

Honoring women from yesterday and today, this exhibit is based on a book written by E.C. "Mike" Alft, "Elgin: A Women's City.

Alft was a teacher, former mayor and Elgin historian as well as an actual Illinois Library Luminary.

In his 2008 book, he mentioned that many fascinating Elgin women were trailblazers who helped shape the city for future generations but were not recognized by historians and journalists of the time.

This exhibit puts fascinating women featured in the book in the spotlight.

One of these women is Emeline Church Borden (1808-1890). The wife of entrepreneur Gail Borden, she encouraged her husband to open the Elgin Milk Condensing Co. in 1865. After Gail Borden's death in 1874, Emeline's two sons, and Gail Borden's stepsons, donated a building for a public library with the stipulation that it always be called Gail Borden Public Library.

Twenty-one other local women of the past will be highlighted, including Lisa Boehm (1913-2008) who was the prima ballerina at the Deutsche Opernhaus in Berlin and the Stadt Theater in Berne. She staged "The Nutcracker" at the Hemmens, a community tradition for 33 years.

Adellia Green (1901-82), a resident of the Settlement area, was active in the work of the Fremont Center and the local NAACP. Her restaurant, Green's Fried Chicken, was a thriving family-run business.

These three women and many more will be featured in the exhibit.

Because some of these women were not recognized for their accomplishments at the time, photos of several do not exist or cannot be found.

The result is an exhibit bringing the stories of these women to you with silhouettes in the place of photos. It is a reminder that in the past, and perhaps continuing somewhat today, women's accomplishments may not have been recognized as they should have been.

This concept of the lack of coverage of women in the past lends this exhibit to segue into the accomplished women journalists of the present.

See a 2-minute sampling from the longer interviews on the library's YouTube channel.

The library staff wish to thank these talented women storytellers for sharing their views on being journalists and the coverage of women today - Carol Marin (former political editor of NBC 5 News, WTTW contributor), Brandis Friedman (WTTW "Chicago Tonight" co-anchor, host of "Chicago Tonight Black Voices"), Madhu Krishnamurthy (Daily Herald Assistant City Editor and Diversity Editor), Julie Mann (Kane County Public Information Officer and former WBBM managing editor), Stacey Wescott (visual journalist at Chicago Tribune) and Amy Carr (recent editor-in-chief Chicago magazine).

To see their full bios as well as their entire interviews with area high school students go to The library also thanks high school students Lilah, Braden, Salome and Samantha for their curiosity and enlightening questions.

In addition, the library will be offering these programs to honor inspiring women around the world.

<h3 class="briefHead">Thursday, March 3</h3>

"From Surviving to Thriving: Key Learnings for Latinas and Women of Color to Lead From the Front" with author Denise Padín Collazo at 6 p.m. in the main library Meadows Community Rooms and Facebook Live:

Join award-winning author, Harvard graduate and social justice leader Denise Padín Collazo to celebrate International Women's Day. The first 20 persons to arrive will receive a copy of the book signed by the author on arrival. The program is also in Spanish.

<h3 class="briefHead">Sunday, March 6</h3>

"Elgin Celebrates International Women's Day" at 1:30 p.m. in the main library Meadows Community Rooms

Guest speakers and dramatic vignettes will highlight the accomplishments of women in Elgin and around the world. Speakers will include Laura Robertson, author of "Forty Dollars and a Dream"; Ramona "Monie" Burns, a social activist/tribal member of the Paiute Nation; LeJewel K. Crigler, community activist; Tina Viglucci, Gail Borden Library Hispanic Services director, and Jennifer Ford, president of the League of Women Voters of the Elgin Area.

<h3 class="briefHead">Tuesday, March 8</h3>

"We Are Eagles," author talk with Anna Marie Kukec Tomczyk at 7 p.m. in the main library's Meadows Community Rooms.

Celebrate International Women's Day with local journalist Anna Marie Kukec Tomczyk, author of "We Are Eagles: Inspiring Stories of Immigrant Women Who Took Bold Steps in Life Through Literacy."

<h3 class="briefHead">Tuesday, March 22</h3>

Listen to poems by famous and local women poets. "The Feminine Perspective in Poetry " at 7 p.m. on Zoom.

Organized by Elgin Poet Laureate Gareth Mann Sitz on behalf of the Elgin Poet Laureate Project.

<h3 class="briefHead">Saturday, April 9 </h3>

Explore which First Ladies have ranked highest and lowest (or in-between) by historians with "America's First Ladies: The Best, the Worst and the Strangely Forgotten" at 1 p.m. in the main library's Meadows Community Rooms.

It is presented by Leslie Goddard, award-winning actress and scholar.

<h3 class="briefHead">Thursday, April 14 </h3>

Author and radio talk show personality Toria Renee will discuss her book "Networkology: Women Building Wealth One Business at a Time" at 7 p.m. in the main library Elgin Room.

Autographed copies of the book will be available for purchase.

Register for any of these programs at

For more women's history information, visit

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